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      the only Weekly Word-origin Webzine

Issue 105   

October 31, 2000
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Spotlight Words on our minds this week.
Words to the Wise Our world-famous question and answer column.
curmdgeon.GIF (1254 bytes) Curmudgeons' Corner Gripes and grumbles from whining pedants Barb Dwyer and Malcolm Tent.
Sez You . . . Wherein we graciously permit challenges to  our profound erudition.
NEW! Laughing Stock Funny stuff we occasionally stumble across.
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spotlight_1.GIF (2578 bytes) Spotlight on...

the days of the week, continued

As we saw in Issue 104, the seven day week started with the Babylonians.  Some cultures, such as the Jews and Greeks, incorporated the Babylonian week into their calendars but they simply number the days from one to seven.  Where did our day-names come from?

From the Roman cult of Mithras.  This eclectic religion entered the Roman world from the orient around 100 A.D. and by 200 A.D. had become an established part of the Roman scene.  The cult centered around an initiation in which the newcomer was showered in bull's blood and was very loosely based on the Persian myth of a hero called Mithra with a lot of astrological symbolism thrown in.  Mithras slaying the bull. Note Scorpio nipping at the bullMithraism was very popular within the Roman army and, as one might expect of a soldiers' religion, its teachings were not very subtle and it incorporated scraps picked up in sundry parts of the Empire.  One of the exotic items which they incorporated into Mithraism was the Babylonian custom assigning a different planet to each day.  The Mithraists took the seven Babylonian days and translated them into Latin.  According to the Babylonians the first day was that of Shamash, the sun so the Mithraic week was: dies solis, dies lunae, dies martis, dies mercurii, dies jovi, dies veneri, dies saturni.  That's "the day of the sun", "the day of the moon", "the day of Mars", "the day of Mercury", "the day of Jupiter", "the day of Venus" and "the day of Saturday", respectively,  In Mithraism, the planet was considered identical with the god after whom it was named and prayers were said each day to the god of that day.

When the Teutons on the northern borders of the Empire traded with the Romans they learned of this  Mithraic week.  Pretty soon (around 200 A.D.) they had adopted the week themselves and, while they didn't care for Mithraism, they translated its day names into their local tribal languages, some of which were ancestors of Old English.

The sun and moon were not gods to the Teutons, merely luminous orbs which, if they were lucky, they occasionally glimpsed as they sailed through their cloudy skies.  Accordingly, dies solis and dies lunae were just translated as "sun day" and "moon day" or sunnandaeg and mónandaeg in Old English.  Other cultures adopted the week after they adopted Christianity and their names for Sunday are usually translations of dies domini "day of the lord".  Italian domenica, French dimanche, Spanish domingo, Irish di-domhnaich all follow this pattern but Polish, Czech and Bulgarian have niedziela, niedele, and nedelyawhich all mean "not working".  This day off must have been very important to the Slavs because in these languages, and even Russian, Monday is translated as "the day after not working".

The ancient Teutons really didn't get Saturn.  He was a god of seed-sowing and agriculture.  At the period when these translations happened (1st and 2nd centuries A.D.) they were nomadic herders and warriors who felt infinitely superior to mere farmers.  They had never heard of the planet Saturn and, not bothering to find a Teutonic equivalent of the god Saturn, they just borrowed his name.  That is how Latin dies Saturnii turns up in Old English as Saeternesdaeg ("Saturn's day", Saturday).  Not all Teutonic languages followed this route, however.  It is Loerdag in both Swedish and Danish and it is Laugardagur in Icelandic, all of which mean "bath day".  Surprisingly, this meaning also derives from Mithraic customs.

The other days are all named after Teutonic deities.  But the translations really aren't very good.  Take, for example, Tuesday.  It's named after Tiw, a god of the northern tribes who was chosen as an equivalent to Mars, the Roman war-god.  The Teutons would not have considered Tiw to be especially warlike.  For one thing, it has been said that all the Teutonic gods were war-gods, even Frigg, the token goddess.  Yet Tiw did sacrifice a hand so that the gods could chain a giant wolf.  Because of such  bravery, the Romans first assumed him to be Hercules but around 200 A.D. they began to equate him with Mars.  This period was precisely when Mithraism was becoming prevalent and the reason the Mithraists chose Tiw may have been nothing more significant than that his statues show him holding a sword.  Thus, the Mithraic dies Martis "day of Mars" became Tíwesdaeg ("Tiw's day") in Old English.  Curiously, etymology shows that Tiw wasn't really a war-god at all.  Sometimes written Tîwaz, his name is actually identical to deus (Latin "god"), theos (Greek "god"), duw (Welsh "god") and deva (Sanskrit "god"), all of which are thought to derive from an Indo-European root meaning "shining".  From our modern etymological perspective we might say that Tiw was closer to the Greek Zeus (= theos "god") or his Roman counterpart Jupiter.  Jupiter was originally Jo[vis] pater, from Early Latin dio "god" +  pater "father").

Some of the Teutonic tribes used a different name for Tuesday, though.  As Tiw was god of the ding or  tribal assembly, they called it Dingssdag, hence the modern German Dienstag and Dutch Dinsdag.  By the way, in Old English, ding was thing which is, by a roundabout route, where we get our word thing.

Wednesday is of course Woden's day, the earliest (10th century) Old English form being Wodnesdaeg.  Woden was also known as Wotan, or Odin, or Othin, or sometimes even Grim.  He once exchanged one of his eyes for wisdom and was esteemed for his keen intelligence.  Perhaps that's why the Mithraists saw him as a form of Mercury, they both have quick wits.  The two gods were also the fastest in their respective leagues.  Mercury was fleetest of the Olympian gods because of his winged sandals and, among the Aesir, Woden was swiftest because he rode an eight-legged horse.  We can only presume that these are the comparisons which the ancients made.  Would we have made the same choice?  Perhaps not.  As Woden was god of warriors slain in battle, he might have made a better match for Mars.  But, for whatever the reasons, the Mithraic dies mercurii was seen as Woden's day, hence Wednesday.

Similarly, dies Jovi became Thunresdaeg or "Thor's day".  That is, it is the day of Thunor (also called Thor, or Dunar) the Teutonic thunder god.  The names Thor, Thunor and Dunar are all related to the word thunder.  Thus German for Thursday is Donnerstag and Dutch is Donderdag, both meaning "thunder day".  There is even an English document from 1460 which speaks of Thundurday instead of Thursday.  That much is clear, but why was Thor thought to be equivalent to Jupiter, king of the Gods?  Simply because they both made thunder and lightning, Jupiter with his winged thunderbolt, Thor with his hammer.

Friday is often said to mean "the day of Freya" but this is incorrect.  It is an understandable mistake as Freya was a Teutonic goddess of great beauty and a good match for Venus but she was not one of the Aesir, the top tier of gods.  She belonged to the race of lesser gods called Vanir who had been vanquished by the Aesir.   There was only one goddess in the Aesir, and she was Woden's wife Frigg, goddess of married women (not quite the same as a love-goddess).  As her husband ruled those slain on the battlefield, warriors would pray to Frigg on the eve of battle.  (See what we mean about them all being war-gods in some way?)  Her name was spelled variously as Frig, Fria or even Frija but she was quite distinct from Freya.  It was Frigg who gave us Old English Frigdaeg "Friday" as a translation of  dies Veneris (Latin, "the day of Venus"). 

We mentioned earlier that some cultures use numbers, not names, for their days.  In Hebrew, Greek, Icelandic, Portuguese and Arabic the numbered days begin with Sunday, as the ancient Babylonians did.  But Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian and Chinese start their numbering from Monday.  Our reference books are not explicit as to how this came about except to say that it was a "historical mistake".

AG00003_.gif (10348 bytes) Words to the Wise

Your Etymological Queries Answered

From Caleb Hand:

I've heard that the term housewarming has a Scottish origin.  Can you verify this and the history behind it?

Caleb Hand!  A name to conjure with, forsooth. With a name like that you should be hefting a whaling harpoon or rustling steer in Wyoming.  Please don't tell us that you're an accountant.

Housewarming Scottish? Well, there is an old march from the time of the Jacobite rebellion called "The Burning of the Piper's Hut"...

In fact, the word huswermynge is first mentioned in an English monastic record from about 1150 but, at this early date it simply meant "heating a house".  It was not until 1577 that it came to be used metaphorically: "The Shomakers [shoe makers] of London, having builded .a newe Hall, made a royall feast for theire frends, which they call their howse warming".

From Susan Day:

I can't find the etymology of this expression anywhere.  I told one of my students a writer's style was tongue in cheek and he said, "What's that?"  I explained the meaning and then told him I would find out where it comes from but I'm stumped!  Any ideas?

Of course.  As you well know, tongue-in-cheek writing has an air of seriousness but is really intended to amuse.  The expression comes from a theatrical technique. 

Imagine this: it is the last act of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo enters to find Juliet apparently dead and instead of just committing suicide, he launches into a speech first.  (Well, this is Shakespeare.)  Unfortunately, his mischievous leading lady is prone to practical jokes and just as Romeo gets to the line "How oft when men are at the point of death have they been merry!", Juliet winks at him.  The actor desperately wants to laugh but daren't because it would destroy the dramatic atmosphere.  What does he do?  Simple, he pokes the inside of his cheek with his tongue or, if the urge to laugh is really strong, he bites his tongue.

Tongue-in-cheek doesn't seem to be a very old phrase as the earliest use we can find is in the Times Literary Supplement for 1933.

Among actors, to laugh inappropriately on stage, is called corpsing.

From Mrs. Hilda Beattie:

What is the origin of the word hero and why is it so close to the name of the greek Goddess Hera? My 5th graders would like to know.

Well, we can't disappoint the little tykes, can we.  Hero comes from the Greek word heros which meant "hero".  Boring, isn't it?  Funnily enough, we were curious about this word ourselves a few weeks ago and we expected to find a much richer word history than this.  Oh, well, you can't win 'em all.

Why is it like Hera?  The same reason that heros is an anagram of horse - coincidence.  If we look at the stories of Hercules (called Herakles in Greek), the greatest of classical heroes, we could possibly see a connection as his name Hera-kles means "Glory of Hera".  His name is somewhat ironic, though, as the goddess was nothing but trouble for him throughout his life.  At one point she sent him so mad that he slew his own children.  Her perpetual animosity toward Herakles may have because he was the son of Zeus (Hera's husband) and the mortal woman Alcmene.

From Greg Fitts:

Please research the meaning of the term diva.  I believe it to mean an opera singer of very good quality.  Now the MTV generation has usurped it to mean any female singer who reaches an undefined status or following in the music industry. I think this is a terrible misuse of the word.  I think that some correction is necessary.

You are quite right, Greg.  It does mean "a very good (female) opera singer" and is synonymous withMaria lets rip prima donna (Italian, "first lady").  Diva is Italian for "goddess", deriving ultimately from Latin divus "divine, deity", a form of deus (Latin "god").  Related words turn up in many Indo-European terms for, and names of, gods.  There's deva, Sanskrit for "god", Tiwaz, the Teutonic sky-god and even Jupiter (Latin dio pater "father god").

We can sympathize with your annoyance. To lavish such terms on the likes of Madonna and the Spice Girls irks us too, especially as diva was once reserved for singers of the stature of Maria Callas and Vittoria de los Angeles.  But ho-hum...  We may not like it but this is the way language evolves, from bel canto to can belt-o.

From B Shelton:

Is there a relationship between the word frig and its variants (used to substitute for the other "F" word) and the Anglo-saxon/Teutonic goddess Frig?  It would seem that, since she was comparable to Aphrodite and Venus (see your Issue 104 Spotlight table), this may be the case.

Yes, we did say that Frigg was compared to Venus and Aphrodite but, as the current Spotlight makes clear, she was in no way a love goddess.

The verb to frig is a curious one with a number of meanings.  Firstly, along with the related verbs to fig, to frike, to fridge, to fidge and to fidget, it means "to move restlessly".  In another context it could mean "to rub or chafe" and it may be that this frig is related to the Latin verb fricare "to rub" which also gave us fricton.  It was probably euphemistic use of the "rubbing, chafing" meaning which gave frig its second meaning: "to masturbate" (from 1588).

The use of frig as a substitute for that other F word is really quite recent.  So much so, in fact, that we can find no record of it before 1933.  Of course, words with obscene connotations are the least likely to appear in print but even so, without an earlier reference than the 20th century, we consider any connection with ancient goddesses tenuous at best.

curmdgeon.GIF (1254 bytes) Curmudgeons' Corner

Suzanne Carpenter, new reader and guest curmudgeon, splutters...

As a Southerner I am always amazed at the ignorance displayed by the contention that "you all" is used to substitute for the singular "you."  We Southerners mean it as plural when two or more people are being spoken to or of.  It is a substitution for "all of you" or "both of you." 

The myth probably began because of the inability of others to understand the following conversation between Sally and Sue. Sally might say to Sue, who is obviously standing there alone, "Are you all going to the movie?" Sally is not implying that Sue is more than one person; Sally is implying that Sue has a sister/husband/boyfriend or similar close relationship, and the question is whether those people are going to the movie — not whether Sue alone is going. Think of it as a way of being hospitably inclusive. Those who began the myth would assume that upon Sally's seeing Sue alone on an elevator, Sally would say, "I saw you all on the elevator."  I have never heard a Southerner express it that way — but I have heard many a "yankee" try to imitate a Southerner by choosing such language.  I understand "you all" and "you guys," but I am still mystified by "youse."  

But, no, I'm sorry — I don't know what chitterlings is/are! I've never eaten it/them. I don't even know whether to use singular or plural!  

You don't have to be a Southerner to know about chitterlings, you know.  One of us (guess which) grew up knowing all about chitterlings in his childhood in South Wales.  In Britain the word has three syllables, they don't call them chitlins.  Singular or plural?  Well, it's singular when it's still in the pig but definitely plural when it's chopped up.

Sez You...
From Jeff Wigley:

I was browsing through the Encyclopedia Britannica Online and came across a reference to your wonderful site in an article about the Evolution of the Geek.  Just thought you might like to know.  Keep up the great work!

So, even the Encyclopedia Britannica says to Take Our Word For It !  Thanks, Jeff!

From Janis Holmberg:

I passed on Issue 102's Laughing Stock: ("No parking above this sign" seen in South Africa) to a native South African.  He replied,

Er.... not many people know that birds in South Africa can read :-)

Nice try!

From Kevin Robinson:

I was quickly able to find a reference to drownded in David Copperfield here.

Here is an actual quote, from Mr. Peggoty who is speaking of I believe Ham's love for Little Emily.  It is from Chapter 21 of Dicken's Classic:

There was a certain person as had know'd our Em'ly, from the time when her father was drownded; as had seen her constant; when a babby, when a young gal, when a woman. Not much of a person to look at, he warn't," said Mr. Peggotty, "something o' my own build - rough - a good deal o' the sou'-wester in him - wery salt - but, on the whole, a honest sort of a chap, with his art in the right place.

Now, my question is what prompted this discussion?

Well done, Kevin.  The Back Issues are now up to date, so you can have a look there to find out how the drownded issue arose.

From Clare Redfarn:

I've just come across your magazine and I think it's great!

The Cockney actor and comedian Stanley Holloway was known for a series of monologues given in a variety of English dialects.  "Albert and the Lion" was written by Marriott Edgar in Yorkshire dialect and contains the following lines (Albert and his family have gone to the seaside for a day out):

They didn't think much of the ocean,
The waves they were fiddlin' and small;
There were no wrecks and nobody drownded
In fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

You can read the whole poem and many others here (thanks to S. Grigor for the updated link). 

For the benefit of you Americans out there, Yorkshire folk pride themselves on being straightforward and down-to-earth. They don't like airs and graces; they're not impressed easily and are known for plain speaking, i.e., being bloody rude.

Thanks, Clare!  We've actually got a Stanley Holloway LP with this on it and we're a bit embarrassed that we forgot about that use of drownded.  Thanks for the reminder!  And we would urge anyone who hasn't heard or read these Marriott Edgar monologues to repair that gap in their erudition as soon as possible as they are very funny.  Our favorite is "Three-ha'pence a Foot", a tale of Noah, the Great Flood and a Lancashire lumber merchant named Sam Oglethwaite.

As for the Yorkshire character, though, we seem to recall a rhyme:

Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred,
Strong i' th' arm and thick in t' 'ead.

Seriously, we've known several Yorkshiremen as friends and find them to be natural humorists who deliver wry witticisms with casual aplomb and a poker face.

From Donna Richardson:

Oh dear, I'm afraid I have to disagree with your statement: 

Since it was first recorded in 1838, dingbat has had many meanings but was never used as an insult until 'All in the Family'.

 Unfortunately, I have no written documentation, but my father definitely used dingbat as an insult before Archie Bunker. For example, I specifically remember him singing his parody of the song "Rosemarie" which went: 

Oh, Rosemarie, you dingbat,
When will you lose your baby-fat?

to a girl named Rosemarie who was in my Girl Scout troop in 1969.  (Incidentally, she had no baby-fat, and she was not amused).

I suppose it's possible that my Dad and the writers of the show were amused by the sound of the word and decided to adopt it as an insult independent of each other; he is, sadly, no longer with us or I would ask.

Well, perhaps you are right, Donna.  Maybe it was used as an insult (albeit a mild and meaningless one) before "All in the Family".  We just had no printed example of it from before that date.

From Anson Young:

I once saw an explanation of dingbat in a footnote to a hobo song. Their version was that dingbats were tramps who banged on kitchen doors asking for handouts.  The verse went thus:

We camped in the jungles together,
The Wiseguys, the Hoosiers, the Johns,
The Winos, the Dinos, the Dingbats,
Gazooneys, Gazunks, and Gazons.

The editor ventured a guess that the last three might be akin to French garcon or Irish gosoon meaning 'boy.' 

How interesting!  Note that Hoosier is also mentioned.  These days this word means "a native of Indiana" but etymologically it's a mystery.  We wonder if it might have meant something else when this song was current.  Did the book give it a date?

From Brad Daniels:

In issue 103 Sez you, a reader takes exception to your claim that a mariner would not say nor' by nor'west.  I would like to take mild exception to his exception, if I may. 

While a mariner might not say nor' by nor'west when referring to a compass direction, it would be acceptable to say that when referring to the movie "North by Northwest", because the title does not in fact refer to a compass point at all.  The name is generally believed to refer to the fact that the main character travels north on Northwest Airlines.  It seems like a silly reason for a title, but when you think about it, the compass point the name suggests has nothing to do with the film's content at all. 

Also, nor' nor'west is quite acceptable, and it refers to the compass point midway between north and northwest.  I always assumed the title referred to that direction, until I read the alternate explanation for the title's origin. 

If you're interested in the names of all the compass directions, here's a web page with a nice diagram.

We agree, Brad, that is a silly reason for the movie's title.

From Chandra McCann:

Ah, how it warms my heart to know that there are fellow dredgers alive and well in the world! And to finally have a name for my favorite hobby! What a delightful Spotlight [in Issue 103] indeed.

So glad you enjoyed it!  You can also see it at

From Joshua Daniels:

You never heard you-uns?  It even has a plural, yunses.  That refers, I think, to one object possessed by multiple people.  

Usage: [spoken to a family] "Is that yunses' house?" 

Another plural possessive of you is y'all's, which I heard used to refer to multiple objects possessed by multiple people. 

Usage: "Is them y'all's schoolbooks on the table there?" 

I heard them both in East Tennessee thirty years ago, but many places since.

And a great South- and Southwestern-ism that handily freaked out my college German professors is putting the article the before the word both. Example: "My brothers got new horses and the both of 'em disappeared for a week." He couldn't believe his ears when we did the same thing in German, putting die before beide.  He couldn't completely eradicate the habit, either, even though he only tried to clean it out of our German speaking.

Melanie says from afar that she, of course, has heard you-uns, and she has, in fact, used y'all's herself!  She is a native Texan, after all.

From Dick Timberlake:

I finally got to read Issue 101.  Synchronized crosswords sounds like a terrific event.  I'll continue my training with the New York Times Sunday puzzle. 

Your proposed event reminded me of Shoe, a comic strip that was created by the late James McNelly. Some years ago, one of his characters said he'd watch the Olympics when Scrabble was an event. 

I dream of speed Scrabble, synchronized crosswords, aerial acrostics, the logophile pentathlon (cryptograms, anagrams, rebuses, palindromes, and puns) - the Olympics for wordies.

Mental sports, what a glorious thought!  We've often thought that one's brain muscles need just as much exercise as the others.  The mental equivalent of jogging might be... oh... learning a new language, say.  What would mental weight-lifting be?  Reciting "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in ancient Greek while calculating the square root of 17 to 100 decimal places?

Actually, we have occasionally indulged in informal crossword contests.  These are always held in coffee bars as they usually have multiple copies of the same newspaper lying around.  

You probably enjoy the infuriating conundrums of Will Shortz (New York Times Crossword Puzzle editor and NPR's Weekend Edition Puzzlemaster) as much as we do!

From Judith Cuneo:

Issue 104 was worth waiting for - thanks!

Thank you, Judith!  We figured this was a good time to explain our irregular publishing schedule of late to those of our readers who don't happen to subscribe to our companion newsletter.  Melanie has been out of town on an extended business trip since late September, coming home briefly now and again on weekends, and Mike has had to produce the page all by himself.  Last week and this he was suffering from a raging cold, which further hampered his already monumental efforts to get Take Our Word For It published on his own.  You may be relieved to know (for Mike's sake!) that Melanie is helping him out this weekend despite a very short visit home.

By the way, thanks to all of you who have written to give moral support to Mike and to urge Melanie home as soon as possible!

Laughing Stock

This is something we first heard on the radio and were subsequently delighted to discover on the web.   Although it doesn't concern words per se but is such an amusing parody that we couldn't resist passing it along.

Ian Frazier's Laws Concerning Food and Drink first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, February 1997, Volume 279, No. 2, page 89. 

Laws Concerning Food and Drink
Household Principles,
Lamentations of the Father
by Ian Frazier

King-James-ized by Ian Chai

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight thou mayest eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, thou mayest eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, thou mayest eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance thou mayest eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats thou mayest eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yea, even of those in sippy-cups, thou mayest drink, but not in the living room, neither mayest thou carry such therein. Indeed, when thou reachest the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there thou mayest not eat, neither mayest thou drink. 

But if thou art sick, and art lying down and watching something, then mayest thou eat in the living room. 

Laws When at Table

And if thou art seated in thy high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keepest thou thy legs and feet below thee as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place thy feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yea, even when thou hast an interesting bandage to show, thy feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink thy milk as it is given thee, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if thou wilt dip thy blocks in the milk, and lick it off, thou wilt be sent away. When thou hast drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by thy teeth hold it to thy face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for thou wilt be sent away. 

When thou chewest thy food, keep thy mouth closed until thou hast swallowed, and do not open it to show thy brother or thy sister what is within; I say unto thee, do not so, even if thy brother or thy sister hast done the same unto thee. Eat thy food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between thy jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe thy lips. I say again to thee, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though thy stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told thee, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until thou art nearly slid away. Heed me; for if thou sittest like that, thy hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass. 

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then thou shalt have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If thou hast eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and thou hast also eaten enough of thy potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then thou shalt have dessert. But if thou eatest a lesser number of peas, and yet thou eatest the potatoes, still thou shalt not have dessert; and if thou eatest the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, thou shalt not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if thou triest to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear thou hast eaten what thou hast not, thou wilt fall into iniquity. And I will know, and thou shalt have no dessert. 

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if thou screamest all the time. If thou art given a plate on which two foods thou wishest not to touch each other are touching each other, thy voice rises up even unto the ceiling, while thou pointtest to the offense with the finger of thy right hand; but verily I say unto thee, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if thou receivest a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome unto thee, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm thee, and causest thee a faint unto death, make not that sound from within thy throat, neither coverst thou thy face, nor pressest thou thy fingers to thy nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die. 

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast thy countenance upward unto the light, and lift thine eyes unto the hills, that I may more easily wash thee off. For the stains are upon thee; even unto the very back of thy head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of thy garment, and upon the tie of thy shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold thyself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and thou shalt not go hence until I have done. 

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest thou be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of thine own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub thy feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub thyself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand. 

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that thou shouldst so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in thy nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me unto madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape. 

Complaints and Lamentations

O my child, thou art disobedient. For when I tell thee what thou must do, thou arguest and disputest hotly even unto the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, thou criest out, and hit and kick. Yea, and even sometimes doest thou spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when thou art sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet would I leave thee there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner thou askest straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, thou mayest not come out." And again thou askest, and again I give the same reply. But when thou askest again a third time, then thou mayest come out. 

Hear me, O my child, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even unto the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health,that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know. 

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And thou shalt remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until thou art twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O child of mine. 

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